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First off nothing is truly sport specific except the sport itself in a purely dogmatic sense. Every training exercise that we do is just a guess that it will make us better at our sport. Obviously there are some exercises that seem to have a higher transfer to better performance on the field, court, track, mat, ice, etc but coaches take it way to far without understanding the why behind their exercise selection.

What happens, due to the lack of understanding and knowledge, is the current state we find ourselves in with coaches prescribing a bunch of bullcrap exercises for athletes because they are FUNCTIONAL and SPORT SPECIFIC. Based on what is going on in the field I felt the need to share the information in the links below presented by some of the top level coaches in the field.

Good video of what we need to consider with “sport specific” training. *****://

Here is a subsequent article that spawned that video…on-bondarchuk/

Here is a little longer video of understanding Bondarchuk’s thoughts from one of his athletes.…ck-principles/ He gives a great outline of what sport training is really about.

Here is a post criticizing the current bastardization of “sports specific” training in America. Here is the highlight if you are done clicking on links: “As a result, ‘sport specific training’ usually ends up as a feeble attempt to approximate the kinematic motion of the competition exercise and a disastrous attempt to approximate the neuromuscular dynamics.”

“Important to note is that the incomplete/deteriorating model of physical education in CONUS contributes to the lack of physical preparation found in our youths and young adults. This, in turn, disguises the ‘results’ that many coaches/trainers illustrate as being beneficial to these individuals development when, in reality, it is the miserably low level of physical preparation of the subjects that yields a situation in which nearly any stimulus what so ever will yield an improvement to their physical condition.”
James Smith…deo-interview/

I think what James Smith says really explains why there is so much confusion when it comes to “sport specific” training because everyone gets results irregardless of the training modality when the preparation of the athlete is low. It is not so much the exercise as it is exercising that is providing the result. The real problem is that coaches are basing their models on these results as the only way to do things. This is why we have so many gimmicky products and programs out there.

All of these coaches are basing a lot of their ideas off the work of Coach Bondarchuk. Anyone who doesn’t know who Coach Bondarchuk is should know that he is a top level throws coach (track and field), as well as a former Olympic Gold Medalist and the top authority of transfer of training in sports. He coached the Hammer for the Soviet Union for 16 years (1976-92′) and his athletes won every single Olympic medal in the Hammer (Gold, Silver & Bronze) during that time. **except for the Olympics they boycotted. I heaven’t done the research but I doubt any coach has ever had that sort of dominance at the Olympic level. Medal sweeps for 16 years at the highest level…I’m kinda sold but he actually has research to back up his success unlike most coaches.

His book, Transfer of Training in Sports, outlines how well a given exercise will transfer to the sporting performance. As an overview; his data shows that an elite athlete will not get the same amount of transfer from a general exercise, like the squat, as a intermediate athlete would and in order for performance to rise the elite athlete needs an exercise that is closer to the actual sporting demand. Beginners will get a very high transfer of training from general exercises. For example: every pound their squat goes up so does the distance of their throws. This relationship is what transfer of training is all about and is easier to visualize in a sport like the hammer or shot where their aren’t so many variables to consider and performance is very measurable.

So if general exercises have such a great transfer to the sport for beginners why worry about creating special strength exercises that might not yield as good of transfer during the early stages? Well one thought is that while the special strength exercises might not yield as good of returns in the beginning; they will allow the athlete better long term success and transfer. The real truth of the situation is most athletes don’t make it past the point where general exercises stop providing great returns. This leads many coaches who coach beginners (WHICH IS MOST ANY COACH READING THIS) to conclude that they should stick to either general exercises or the actual sporting movement to yield results. I would say I would fall into this category because the majority of the athletes I work with are in high school or college. The vast majority of the work my athletes do is general in nature with the few special strength exercises only being done very close to the start of the season. The average American athlete is so far behind the 8 ball that they need a few years of general training just to let their training age start to match their sporting performance.

People involved with Dr.B’s camp would say that what most are trying to do with sport specific training is really special strength training but in a failed attempt.
In order to properly do special strength training the exercise must match the: Duration, Direction and/or Velocity of the sporting movement.
This is not to say that general exercises won’t have a carryover to sport because they will but as the athlete gets more and more advanced (few HS/college baseball players ever meet this requirement) only the most specific exercises will have a transfer to training.

If athletes and coaches could understand the concepts from the provided articles and videos I don’t think there would be so much confusion towards the idea of what exercises we should be choosing and why. I know that there wouldn’t be any more wrist curls being prescribed for high school freshmen who want to hit the baseball out of the park.

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